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Ds not doing PE = possibly not allowed on activity centre school trip

(25 Posts)
frazzledbutcalm Fri 18-Mar-16 14:10:42

Advice needed please.

Ds (yr 6), being assessed for ASD. He has hypermobility, Sensory Processing Difficulties, amongst other things.

Probably quite a long back story but I'll not go into that yet, but will add info if needed later. Ds finds school life difficult/tiresome/stressful. He gets through his days but comes out quite stressed (in the same way my ASD dd does). Since the beginning of this school year school have allowed him not to participate in PE as this is one of his big areas of dislikes/struggles/cause of anxiety. Ds is very happy with this, he stays in the lesson and helps in other ways - (getting stuff ready/tidying away/using the ipad to video/photograph etc. This term staff want him to join in the lessons as it's team building exercises/working together to problem solve. This is apparently linked in to a residential visit later in the year and which will help the children on this visit with the activities. Ds is going on this trip.

Ds is really struggling with the idea of having to do PE. He gets upset when I try to talk about it, but he's said he'll give it a go so long as he can stop during the lesson if it gets too much for him. I've said that's fine, as have school. So today I've received a phone call from the Senco (who I've been emailing/talking about this also). She's said she's spoken to ds today (general stuff at first) then PE was mentioned. Ds got upset and started to cry. She's said (in a very nice, amicable chat) that if ds doesn't do PE lessons then HT has said he'll not be able to go on the residential visit, because if he can't cope with problem solving/team building stuff now then he won't be able to cope when he's there.

Part of me is really angry at this comment. But I also want to get to the bottom of ds's issue with PE and be able to help him. Any ideas what I can do?


BackforGood Fri 18-Mar-16 14:33:32

I'm not sure why it is that PE sessions are so difficult for him - how is his sensory processing ? Halls can be loud and echo-y (although you say he is there with them taking photos)... PE kits can be a different material and difficult for touch ??

To be fair though, I think the school have a point about how anxious he will become if they are spending the full waking day doing activities that make him so anxious for 40mins as part of one day in school. Until (between) you you can unpick what it is that makes him so anxious, they, and the residential centre are going to struggle to make adjustments when he is on the residential.

Toffeelatteplease Fri 18-Mar-16 14:49:50

They are not allowed to do this.

You cannot exclude a child from an element of the curriculum. I have a child with similar difficulties he loves pe but the lesson is adapted for him (with a lot of input from his fantastic one to one). Have a chat with Ipsea.

Now to a certain extent I get concerns over the residential but school should be talking to you about how to make the trip accessible. There approach is unhelpful at best and downright discriminatory at worst

PolterGoose Fri 18-Mar-16 15:02:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

frazzledbutcalm Fri 18-Mar-16 15:04:16

Thanks for your reply back.
I can't get to the bottom of why PE is so difficult for him, it's getting worse as he gets older I think. I wonder if it's because he's not a 'typical' boy ie not rough and tumble, not sporty, not the best co-ordinated. I wonder if he feels like he doesn't fit in with the boys, but doesn't want to be seen with the girls too much. He's more comfortable with girls than boys, always has been. He doesn't really like social interaction with others much.

He thinks the PE sessions atm bear no relevance to the activities on the trip. Which I can kind of see his point - one activity they did in PE was, in groups, they had to stand on a bench and without speaking had to put themselves in birthday date order. Now he sees this as completely irrelevant to the activity centre.

I don't know how to unpick his difficulties. Any tips?

frazzledbutcalm Fri 18-Mar-16 15:06:11

I thought that too toffee (discrimination)... and intend to bring that up with them next week.

I doubt it polter but worth a try.

ElementaryMyDear Fri 18-Mar-16 17:08:48

Stopping him from going on the trip would definitely be discrimination against him on the grounds of his disability. I wonder whether they would also prevent a child from going if he missed the preparation becasue he'd only just joined the school due to being, say, a refugee? If so, there is a strong chance that that would be viewed as racial discrimination.

I strongly doubt that this sort of preparation is essential for the residential trip - it sounds a lot like the PGL thing my children went on when they did things like team raft building activities, and they never did a jot of preparation. If the entire residential trip is built on the assumption that all the children taking part will be NT and non-disabled, then the school shouldn't have chosen it. However, I strongly doubt that it is - if it is something like PGL running it, it could be worth contacting them to see what they have to say about it. I would be prepared to bet that they have arrangements to make sure that all children are properly included irrespective of preparations or disability.

frazzledbutcalm Fri 18-Mar-16 21:18:43

Elementary ... I think it's more a way to make him do PE to be honest.

I have a meeting with Senco and HT after the Easter break. The more I think about it, the more angry I get.

But, it's also made me realise something that maybe I need to change. For both ds and dd (separate schools), they both find PE very stressful (don't know why), both schools let them not do it, which I thought was great. Less stress. However, after reading toffee's post above about PE being made accessible ... I wonder if I've taken the wrong approach by just saying they're not doing PE? Maybe I should be saying to the 2 schools that dc can't access PE due to their anxiety/stress, we should be looking into this more to find out their difficulties and therefore make the lesson accessible?

Toffeelatteplease Sat 19-Mar-16 06:58:57

Yes definitely he absolutely must be doing PE, (I'm sure the HT said to me it was a legal or ofsted requirement I can't remember which), There are lots of things they will do (certainly at primary) that would form part of physio regime for his difficulties. By secondary I would be less worried as long as alternative similar level of physical activity was available over the course of a week (eg swimming at home)

There needs to be work on resilience skills (eg not giveling up when some thing is hard) and willingness to try and try again (eg we did this in ot with threading cards working on cross body cordination at the same time). This are both skills that feed into confidence. But they (and confidence) are hard because if you have difficulty sequencing you are usually working harder at everything with a much much lower level of "sucess".

School (and home) need to look what they are giving praise for, is it aknowledging the level of difficulty you DS has? Is it enough? By allowing him to sit out the message being sent is the totally the wrong one, can't get to the required level so no point trying. Your DS needs to experience "success" (although at the start success might be as simple as getting to the pe lesson) in order to have the confidence to manage the anxiety.

However I suspect this will all need to happen as a package of physio and occupational therapy.DS slid slowly into PE at the start often his therapy and extra educational input was scheduled at the same time as PE (which is how school got around not missing a subject) however slowly he in has integrated in and he announced to me the other day that PE was his favourite subject; incredible given his level of difficulty!

Toffeelatteplease Sat 19-Mar-16 07:17:54

I think it's more a way to make him do PE to be honest.

I thought that too but it is back to front because it is piling on the pressure and anxiety. "Oh I of I can't do pe so I can't possibly do the thing I really want to do" he is liable to reject both and just take the hit on the self esteem. They need to be dealing with the PE anxiety.

I don't have the answer on the residential as that is one I am still battling. Personally I think kids get soo much out of residentials but if it goes badly it could undo years of work with DS. Thankfully we have another year/year and half. He is mostly dry at night which is one of my massive concerns and he has one to one swimming to try and get swimming to the required level.however I'm still cursing that it has to be a physical based residential

frazzledbutcalm Sat 19-Mar-16 14:28:56

Thanks toffee ... It's good to get advice, all perspectives. I'm off to ds's birthday party now - small group, 5 friends, trampoline party. Will post more tonight. smile

Squashybanana Sat 19-Mar-16 23:17:01

My DS hates PE. However just avoiding PE isn't a reasonable adjustment. My DS has to get changed (private space), and go out, but if it's a team sport, which he finds especially hard, he gets to run around the field instead (he can keep running a long time and quite enjoys this). Athletics he joins in as it is individual activity. A couple of times when it was very wet and muddy he went in the hall with a ta and a couple of others reluctant to go out and they shot basketball hoops. Dropping PE is what I call a 'rescue'; it solves a problem in the short term but doesn't help an autistic child develop flexibility of thought or resilience, nor does it build their capacity to manage something they find hard. All these skills will be needed as an adult. Dropping PE teaches only that if you don't like something you don't have to do it. So I would be getting both kids back into it with reasonable adjustment s if you can...

frazzledbutcalm Sun 20-Mar-16 18:43:57

squashy I realised on Friday (post above) that I've taken the wrong approach by letting them both not do PE. I thought I was doing the right thing by allowing them not to do the thing they find really stressful/difficult. This thread has made me realise I've been absolutely wrong :-(

So, I'm going to have talks with both dc, and school and work out how to move forwards, and what to put in place to make PE more accessible to them.

For ds, it should be easy enough as he will tell the teacher when he's stressed/uncomfortable ... however, I've asked before if he can do his exercises given by the physio for his hypermobility but school said no - it's not part of the national curriculum and if ofsted, visitor or similar walked in then it would not be good to see a child doing something on their own.

With dd it will be more difficult as she won't speak up at all so I'm not sure how to make PE more accessible for her.

Any ideas on what could be put in place on how to make PE accessible for both dc?

Squashybanana Sun 20-Mar-16 22:25:58

You may have to start small: she gets changed and does the warm ups, for example, the first couple of times. I would ask for a private changing Space as many autistic youngsters are hyper embarrassed about 'bodies'. Generally individual sports are easier to handle, eg athletics, as long as her results (assuming she's not talented) are not compared with others or held to some standard, her goal could be to see some improvement in her 'least unfavoured' 5 she chooses 5 athletic activities she least hates. In team sports she could do the warm ups and then join in or choose a different sporting activity during the actual game....that kind of thing. Good luck!

Squashybanana Sun 20-Mar-16 22:26:39

Sorry; chooses 5 activities to focus on...

Borka Sun 20-Mar-16 22:31:36

The national curriculum details for PE says that:

These are the statutory programmes of study and attainment targets for physical education at key stages 1 to 4. They are issued by law; you must follow them unless there’s a good reason not to.

(from )

Allowing a child to do exercises given by the physio is a reasonable adjustment and presumably would count as a good reason not to follow the national curriculum.

Toffeelatteplease Mon 21-Mar-16 06:51:05

The reasonable adjustments or encouragement really will depend on the child and the needs of the child. To a certain extent the resources available to do so too.

If he has exercises from Physio does he have someone doing them with him who knows how to check he is doing them properly. DS was expert at finding ways of making physio easier, using the wrong muscle groups, avoiding the thing that was difficult. He would also mess around on anything hatd. He needed someone reasonably skilled with him doing them.

Imho it doesn't start or finish at PE. You need to be looking with school at all those issues of success and failure. Next you need to be getting his opinion on what's wrong, if it's changing you need to be dealing with that but you don't need to worry if that isn't an issue.

You need to deal with it as a problem solving exercise "I've I'm ds and I have the difficulties I have what is the first problem I am going to encounter". Reasonable adjustments for DS: he keeps his schools shoes on because no other footwear is a supportive on his ankles, he has a one to one who checks he is changed right and helps out where needed, he has a one to one to help him remember what he is meant to be doing and sequence movements accurately.

The thing to remember is that the dyspraxia elements will have a different set of difficulties from the asd and will need separate interventions. The dyspraxia will mean holding a sequence of instructions in your head is difficult so you need one instruction at a time. Also holding onto an instruction and sequencing a movement might be very .difficult indeed so your DS might need that broken down further. So a reasonable adjustment for your ds might be that he has a picture sequence of the activities required of him or the teacher just has to say "next the star jump" (although DS would probably need that broken down further esp at the start "jump out arms out jump in arms in" which is why he has one to one)

At the start it maybe just an acknowledgement "we know we are asking you to do stuff that is difficult, you might to not able to do very much of it at the start at all and that's ok. But we think given time you will be able to do a little bit more" after everything you need that self reflection "wow lol what you did/we did together. You didn't think you could make it to a pe lesson but you made it to the door to watch that's fantastic! Maybe next week... We can get changed" always looking to build that sense of achievement and I did it feeling

Toffeelatteplease Mon 21-Mar-16 06:58:09

ofsted, visitor or similar walked in then it would not be good to see a child doing something on their own.

Have they not twigged that this applies to a child doing nothing, not a child for whom he doing something necessary for him that has got to do it somewhen. I fear the school has a lot of re education to go.

Toffeelatteplease Mon 21-Mar-16 07:01:14

I think to a certain extent by secondary the curriculum is moved on more to team games. I think you need to be looking at DD in a more holistic approach. Over the course of the week is she getting sufficient exercise for her needs does she feel left out etc.

frazzledbutcalm Mon 21-Mar-16 15:09:37

Thanks squashy borka and toffee

At the moment both dc help with getting equipment, keeping score etc .. so they're 'kind of' doing something, not just standing around.

I realise I've done this wrong, so now want to put it right and get them included. The difficulty is, for both dc, they cannot say what it is about PE that makes them so stressed/tearful/anxious. I don't know either. When I try to talk to them dd shrugs her shoulders and gets tearful (this is her typically with her ASD) - ds gets tearful and angry. So I'm not sure what to ask school to put in place as a reasonable adjustment with a view to inclusion.

At the start it maybe just an acknowledgement "we know we are asking you to do stuff that is difficult, you might to not able to do very much of it at the start at all and that's ok. But we think given time you will be able to do a little bit more" after everything you need that self reflection "wow lol what you did/we did together. You didn't think you could make it to a pe lesson but you made it to the door to watch that's fantastic! Maybe next week... We can get changed" always looking to build that sense of achievement and I did it feeling ... I like this, toffee thank you!

enterthedragon Tue 22-Mar-16 07:35:59

Our DS has AS, Hypermobility, and SPD, he hates most PE because
1) AS is a triad of impairments (social communication, social interaction, social imagination) DS says that he can't think and act quickly enough in team sports and has difficulties remembering the correct rules in different circumstances, he has difficulties remembering where he should be in relation to his own team members as well as opposing team members, he has difficulty judging speed and distance so team sports like football, basketball, rugby etc are particularly difficult.
2) Hypermobility makes PE more physically tiring as well as harder. DS has an abnormally short running stride which makes running activities extremely difficult
3) Sensory issues are more pronounced in indoor PE, the hall echoes and noise is more confined, instructions are not directed at him personally (as they are in the classroom)
4) outdoor PE is a less well controlled area, larger and often less organised it can also offer more distractions

DS copes far better when PE is predictable, individual sport such as swimming and trampolining are far better for his confidence and self esteem, tennis and badminton are also more favoured by DS as they are a 1-1 sport and oddly enough he doesn't mind cricket. Since yr6 DS has not taken part in cross country/orienteering, sports day or football competitions but has consistently won medals at the annual swimming gala. Just knowing that he was rubbish at sports made my DS more prone to trying to sabotage the PE lessons, made him fearful of trying and made him anxious about failure and letting the side down.

enterthedragon Tue 22-Mar-16 07:53:29

His school concentrate on the taking part, not the winning, all the older boys encourage the younger ones and as far as I know there is very little PE politics ( none of the usual we don't want you on our team because your crap).

Your schools should be trying to include your children by making reasonable adjustments, even though they could argue that allowing them to not take part is a reasonable adjustment (which is indefensible) reasonable adjustments that enable them to take part should be made.

frazzledbutcalm Wed 23-Mar-16 09:57:18

Thanks enter ... tbh I initially suggested both dc not taking part in PE as a way to make their whole school day that bit easier/less stressful. I thought it was a reasonable adjustment. Now I realise I was wrong.

I love the fact that you've pinpointed your ds exact areas of difficulty, and the reasons why. I can't work mine out blush They both can't work it out/tell me why either, which makes it very difficult to know what to change for them. Dd struggles with recognising emotions/feelings and finds it very difficult to vocalise thoughts etc. Ds is not as bad as dd in that respect, but he doesn't know/can't vocalise what it is about PE that is so bad for him. They both just say they hate it. sad

If you don't mind, I'm going to read your post to them both and see if any of those things affect them. They're both good in saying yes or no to direct questions, they don't say yes just for the sake of it. Thankfully, otherwise I'd never get anywhere with them!

enterthedragon Thu 24-Mar-16 08:52:57

DS is now able to tell me more often than not why things are difficult for him, but when he was younger asking questions that only required a yes or no answer was definitely the way to go. It has only been recently that he was more able to to tell us why things were so difficult. Things that are difficult now still require us to dig for answers.

I understand why you thought it was a reasonable adjustment and I would tend to agree as a short term measure, but the schools should be thinking of ways to reintroduce the idea of PE slowly and in a way that doesn't make it feel like PE iykwim, eg DS' school had some of those rocket shaped foam things and they tied long lenghts of red and yellow ribbon round the tail fin and got DS to experiment with it, they used his interest in science to get him take part in a PE session that was just him and a TA, ie what happens when you throw it straight up, how far/high can you throw it, what does the trailing ribbon look like/do etc, who can throw it the furthest, it was all exercise and turned into great fun what was a seriously hard part of the day.

And of course you can show your children the previous post, if it helps them or you then that's good.

frazzledbutcalm Fri 25-Mar-16 13:36:51

He gets 2 PE lessons a week, 1 with a teacher he doesn't like at all, 1 with his class teacher. He agreed to try and do PE on Wednesday (with the teacher he doesn't like). He hasn't done PE since September (well, once last week and once the week before, in his school clothes). This time, he got changed into his kit! And did the WHOLE lesson! I'm really proud of him, sent way too much, smothered him lots of positive vibes/talk his way grin

Major breakthrough!! ... although I know we still have a mountain to climb.

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